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[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/AGrandDayOut http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HouseOfCards_1307.png]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:Some things just crumble if you stick your nose into them.]]-]

Somebody is building a large and complicated house of cards, and there's stuff going on around them that threatens to cause the structure to collapse.

The collapse often happens just as the last two cards are being placed, leaving the builder holding them in place over the empty air where the house used to be.

Like EndangeredSouffle, [[{{Dissimile}} only not with souffle]], and comes with the same two standard variations: In one, the rambunctious behavior around the house of cards is quieted down with no ill effects, only to have a relatively-distant disturbance (slamming door, car backfire) collapse the structure after it is "safe". The other works much the same, except that it is the builder him- or herself who triggers the collapse.

DishDash is a related trope.

The trope name is a play on Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's ''Fall of the House of Usher''.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Near's tarot card house in ''Manga/DeathNote''. He specifically warns his coworkers about how pissed he'll be if they knock it over. They don't. However, in a variant on the trope, he builds a huge structure of ''dice'' which [[MundaneMadeAwesome collapses in slow motion]] when [[spoiler:most of his team gets Death Noted]].
* Yugi made one and eventually fell in the Toei ''Anime/{{Yu Gi Oh|First Anime Series}}'' series.
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'': Hisoka did it, too.
* In ''{{Manga/Nichijou}}'', Yuuko and Mio are about to finish a card house, but Mai [[TheGadfly (as usual)]] messes with them, by sticking a cat toy through the house and dropping her glasses on it. Somehow it stays up. They get her to stop, but then Yuuko gets up to go to the bathroom, and the door closing somehow knocks the lamp off the ceiling, crushing the card house. Yuuko comes back in and puts the last two cards on top of the lamp.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Done with a bit of symbolism in ''Comicbook/ArkhamAsylumASeriousHouseOnSeriousEarth''.

* The ''Franchise/YuGiOh'' fanfiction FanFic/DecksFallEveryoneDies is a metaphorical example. The card house is analogous to the government built around complicated CardGames. The stuff going on in Jamerica causes the government to fall, leaving the duelists hanging like a card house builder's hand.

* The 1993 film ''House of Cards''.

* Ron does this with Exploding Snap cards in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', and singes his eyebrows in the process.
* ''Franchise/TheDarkTower: Literature/TheDrawingOfTheThree'' has crime boss Enrico Balazar build a house of cards while he waits for Eddie to cough up the drugs. When things begin go pear-shaped, the [[{{Foreshadowing}} cards collapse]] without him noticing. It's also mentioned that Balazar once killed a man for deliberately knocking over a house that Balazar was constructing.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheBradyBunch'', episode "[[Recap/TheBradyBunchS1E15FiftyFourFortyAndFight 54-40 and Fight]]": The boys and the girls face off in a house-of-cards building contest to settle an argument.
** In a fade-out mistake, you can see Robert Reed pushing down on a pre-made section of the house and it bounces back into shape.
* ''Series/FatherTed'', episode "New Jack City", as one instance of a RunningGag where Ted rings Father Larry Duff and interrupts him in the middle of doing something that requires unbroken concentration.
* Seen twice in ''Series/{{Poirot}}'':
** In the episode based on the first novel ''Literature/TheMysteriousAffairAtStyles,'' [[Literature/HerculePoirot Poirot]] builds a house of cards ''to calm himself''. He knocks it down by slamming his fists on the table, and starts building it anew before Hastings triggers his EurekaMoment.
** A later episode subverts this, with Poirot building an intricate house of cards while on the phone to Inspector Japp, eventually the whole thing collapses. Later on Japp picks up the top card, revealing that it has been glued together.
* ''Series/{{Pixelface}}'': In "Bored to Undeath", the characters are sitting around bored because no one has played the console for 48 hours. Alexia is building a house of cards, which gets demolished by Sgt. Riley as he attempts to squeeze past her.
* ''Series/{{Banacek}}'': In "Fly Me -- If You Can Find Me", Felix is attempting to break the world record for the tallest house of cards. The whole thing comes tumbling down when Banacek calls him, and Felix realises that he has built the house of cards over the top of the phone.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* One ''ComicStrip/HagarTheHorrible'' strip.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' sees Snoopy watching Linus building such a house. As he gears up for a sneeze, Linus calls out, '''"Turn your head! Turn your head!!"''' Snoopy obliges, after which he lets out a big sneeze. The final panel shows the aftermath: ''Charlie Brown's'' house of cards destroyed.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Seen in ''VideoGame/GhostTrick''. A prison security guard is building a house of cards, but just as he finishes, he thumps the table with outrage at the prospect of escorting a great police detective, who was convicted of murdering his wife with little evidence other than his (slightly dubious) confession, to be executed. This naturally causes his house of cards to collapse.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In an ''WebAnimation/RWBYChibi'' skit, Ruby is building a house of cards, but it falls apart before she finished it because Weiss slams their dorm's door.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''Franchise/WallaceAndGromit in WesternAnimation/AGrandDayOut''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': In [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymEJNLB_zFI one of the Tracey Ullman shorts]], Bart tries to build a house of cards, and Lisa and Maggie keep unintentionally causing it to collapse.
* ''The Imp'' cartoon, episode "Bison" (where it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, knocked down by a rampaging bison).
* The ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'' episode "Scion of the Shredder". The Turtles and Splinter are chilling in their lair, and Michelangelo is building a house of cards. ''Right after'' he places the last two cards, the perimeter alarm goes off. After Donatello hurries to check his computer systems, something starts beating on the front door. The Turtles go for their weapons, and the house of cards gets its very own falling-down shot before it cuts back to the door finally breaking in.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarepants''.
** In one episode [=SpongeBob=] is making a snail-shaped house of cards modeled after Gary, when Patrick comes barreling in and knocks it down.
** In another episode Sandy builds the world's tallest house of cards, so big it has its own elevator. Then along comes Patrick...
* At the end of one episode of ''[[Franchise/CareBears Adventures in Care-a-Lot]]'', it's revealed that [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Grizzle]] didn't appear because he spent the day building a house of cards, complete with {{Evil Laugh}}ter when it's finished. He promptly sneezes, and the whole thing falls over.
* Miss Bitters of ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' uses this as an object lesson:
-->"Now, add all the dead weight of students like you..."\\
''(Student adds haphazard pile of cards to the top of a very large tower, which quickly collapses.)''\\
"So as you can see, children, our whole society is nothing more than a perilous house of cards, doomed to collapse ''under its own weight''."
* ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'': Lucius uses his CoolPlane to destroy a giant house of cards. [[ForTheEvulz He's disappointed it wasn't a real house]].
* The ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' episode, "Cheer Up Candace", began with the two boys putting on the finishing touches of their Temple of Angkor Wat house of card replica. Naturally, thanks to Candace's scream of anguish that triggered the plot of the episode, it collapses before Isabella could take a photo.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/SofiaTheFirst'' opens with Cedric using a spell to build one of these, only to have it collapse when his concentration is broken.

!!Non-card examples (included here until somebody thinks of a good name for the super-trope)

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* During the recap episode of ''Anime/ExcelSaga'', Il Palazzo is setting up an extremely long domino chain. The Excel Girls kick a few of them down, though Il Palazzo stops the chain reaction in time, and responds by strangling them. The camera cuts away, and cuts back to plushies of them (a reference to how Japanese TV shows will sometimes sub in a cardboard cutout of a host if they're unavailable).

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Klegdixal Ambassador's dust sculpture in ''ComicBook/BuckGodotZapGunForHire''.

* In ''Literature/{{Relativity}},'' Greg's introductory scene has him carrying a tall stack of take-out containers across the street. When they start blowing away, Sara is the only bystander to stop and help him (well, she ''is'' a superhero), leading to their MeetCute.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Subverted in an episode of ''Series/{{MASH}}'': propaganda photographers want to make a fragile amateur sculpture into a symbol of the war, but the artists are trying to destroy their own creation.
* In ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'', with Dewey's set of dominoes. They averted the collapse many times, and Hal was really looking forward to the eventual release (trying to keep himself from giving in to the temptation to set them off)... and then he comes home and Dewey has already done it. At the end of the episode Hal has fully reconstructed the whole set and decides that he better captures it on video this time, only to slam the door when leaving setting them off again.
* On an episode of ''Series/MamasFamily'', Vint starts stacking up sugar cubes on his plate, claiming to be going for the "world sugar-stacking record". Mama slams the refrigerator door, and they fall down. He starts doing it again, and this time Mama purposely knocks them down with her tongs.
* Happens on an "Over Our Heads" episode of ''Series/TheFactsOfLife'', when Natalie is trying to stack up some boxes in the store. Everyone keeps slamming the store door and knocking them down.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The opening video of ''VideoGame/RaidouKuzunohaVsTheSoullessArmy'' has Narumi building a house out of matchsticks which gets knocked over by Gouto (the protagonist's [[TalkingAnimal talking cat]] [[NonHumanSidekick sidekick]]) jumping onto his desk.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Bigweld's domino layout in ''WesternAnimation/{{Robots}}''.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'', Timmy is building a scale model of the Eiffel tower when his dad or mom bursts in and it collapses. Happens as a RunningGag throughout the episode.
* ''Disney/MickeysChristmasCarol'' has Scrooge counting his money, piling the coins into tall thin stacks as he basically dumps Belle. She storms out, toppling the piles in mid-count.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", Sideshow Bob builds a miniature model of Westminster Abbey, which collapses from the sound of people laughing at the Krusty the Klown Show.
* In ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', the sultan is stacking some tiny statuettes when Jafar slams open the door and they fall down.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius'' episode "Who's Your Mommy", when the power of the whole town starts shutting off, we see [[TheBully Butch]] making a very tall tower of rounded sticks.
-->'''Butch:''' My counselor was right. All I needed to curb my anger was a hobby.
-->''(Reaches up to place a stick on the very top only to have the lights turn off, followed by a crashing sound)''
-->'''Butch:''' Okay, NOW I'M MAD!